2008 NFL Draft Team Spotlight: Oklahoma

CB Reggie Smith (R. Martinez/Getty Images)

NFL Draft analyst Chris Steuber believes that Oklahoma's 2008 draft class could rival their 2005 class that included 11 selections. Learn more about the talented players at Oklahoma who NFL scouts have been evaluating.


2008 Draft Spotlight
Oklahoma
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When you think of prospects that come from the University of Oklahoma you think production. The Sooners produce great athletes that are game-changers, leaders, and franchise players who're able to enter the professional ranks and start right away. Over the years, Oklahoma has had some great players enter the NFL, and since 2000 they've had 33 players drafted.

The Sooners' potential draft class in 2008 has a chance to be as successful as the class in 2005. In 2005, the Sooners had 11 players selected: two in the first round (OT - Jammal Brown and WR - Mark Clayton), three in the second round (DB - Brodney Pool, WR - Mark Bradley, and LB - Dan Cody), one in the third (WR - Brandon Jones), one in the fourth (CB - Antonio Perkins), three in the fifth round (CB - Donte Nicholson, CB - Mike Hawkins, LB - Lance Mitchell), and one in the sixth round (OG - Wes Sims).

Oklahoma has a chance to produce up to four first-round draft picks next April if all of the potential prospects declare for the draft. Two of the Sooners' key defensive backs, juniors Reggie Smith and Nic Harris, are locks to be first-round selections if they forego their final season of eligibility. Also in the running for first-round prominence are wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, who's one of the nations best vertical threats, and guard George "Duke" Robinson, who is a massive interior lineman that can anchor an offensive line for years to come.

The fifth-ranked Sooners are loaded with a lot of youth, and if some of their young talent decides to enter the draft, Oklahoma may find themselves in a transition mode next year. But it's likely most of their top underclassmen will stay in Norman, Oklahoma for their senior seasons and continue to develop their games before they jump to the next level.

With that said, here's a look at Oklahoma's top draft prospects and where I project them to land in the 2008 NFL Draft:

CB, Reggie Smith (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 1st Round
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 196

Smith is an outstanding athlete who covers a lot of ground in the secondary. He's a versatile defender who can play corner or safety at the next level. He's an athletic centerfielder with tremendous ball skills. He displays great awareness in coverage and plays physically against bigger receivers. He defends the run very well and takes good angles in pursuit. He diagnoses the action instantly and possesses a good sense of timing. Smith is a top-20 selection in next April's draft if he decides to forego his senior season. His versatility and playmaking ability in the secondary is hard to find and are skills that teams crave.

FS, Nic Harris (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 1st Round
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 232

Harris is a big-time safety who has the skills to play in coverage or in the box and defend the run. He has great awareness and positions himself well to make plays. He has great ball skills and rolls over to coverage well. He immediately recognizes the action and delivers punishing hits on the opposition. He possesses a great burst of speed, moves well laterally, and can lay sideline-to-sideline. He's a disciplined defender who rarely gets caught out of position. Harris is a special player. He has the ability to change a game from the safety position. However, he's an underclassman, and it's unknown if he'll make himself available for the draft. If he does, he's a lock to be a first-round pick.

WR, Malcolm Kelly (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 1st-2nd Round
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 219


Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Kelly is a big, physical vertical threat who possesses game breaking ability when the ball is in his hands. He gets a quick release off the line, uses his frame to his advantage, and has the ability to make acrobatic receptions with his tremendous athleticism. He has to run smoother routes, but he's quick in and out of his cuts. He has good hand-eye coordination and demonstrates that as he locks the pass into his hands and rarely allows it into his body. He's elusive in the open field after the catch and is a threat to score every time the ball is in his hands. Kelly is a game-changer on offense. He's a player who can provide instant offense for a team and strikes fear into the opposition. If Kelly decides to leave school early, he'll be a late first-, early second-round selection.

OG, George Robinson (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 2nd Round
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 352

Robinson is a massive interior lineman who dominates the action in the trenches. He's quick off the snap, delivers a devastating initial punch, and uses his strength to overpower the opposition. He has good footwork for a man of his size and moves well laterally. He shows the ability to take on two defenders and hold his ground. He has great technique, bends his knees, squares up the opposition, and is patient protecting at the line. He has good athleticism and is able to get to the second level. Nicknamed "Duke," Robinson's size is a huge advantage, and he is able to play inside or outside on the offensive line. He's another one of the many Oklahoma juniors who may consider leaving school early. He's a second-round prospect if he enters the 2008 draft.

RB, Allen Patrick (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 196

Patrick is an explosive running back who displays toughness running inside and elusiveness running around the end. He has quick feet and a great burst through the line. He's most effective as a situational back who can cause problems for defenses with his track speed. He's a patient runner who has great vision and gets through a seam in a flash. He runs with a lot of finesse and makes defenders miss. Patrick is a dynamic weapon out of the backfield who has game-breaking ability and will be a third-round pick next April.

OT, Phil Loadholt (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
Height: 6-8 | Weight: 352

Loadholt is a huge, monstrous tackle who can shed the opposition away with ease. He stays square to the opposition, has good technique and uses his brute strength to his advantage to knock defenders off their rush. He's a strong run-blocker who drives the opposition off the line and finishes his blocks until the whistle blows. He moves well laterally for a man of his size and has developed his game in pass protection, but he struggles against speedy defenders who play with leverage around the end. Loadholt is a long shot to enter the draft, but his size and skill alone will attract a lot of teams. If he decides to forego his senior season, Loadholt would be a solid third-round pick who could elevate his stock with a good showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

OLB, Curtis Lofton (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 3rd Round
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 238

Lofton has emerged as a sure tackler who has playmaking potential. He immediately reads the action, takes good angles in pursuit and wraps up the opposition. He plays with a high motor and positions himself well to make a play. He gets lost in the shuffle on occasion and has to get off blocks better. He drops well in coverage and has good ball skills. Lofton is playing middle linebacker for the Sooners and is probably a weakside linebacker at the next level. But he's a solid prospect who will benefit from staying in school another year. At this point, he's a third-round prospect whose stock will only increase as he continues to grow as a player.

WR, Juaquin Iglesias (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 4th Round
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 202

Iglesias is a reliable receiver with a knack for the big play. He has a great understanding of the offense and plays the game with a lot of focus. He's quick off the line and runs solid routes. He's a consistent target over the middle that a quarterback can rely on, and he has the quickness to get downfield for a big gain. He's a hard worker who gets defenders to play off of him, drives them back, and comes back to the ball and flashes soft hands. He's a physical receiver who makes tough catches in traffic and doesn't shy away from contact. Iglesias benefits from having a big-time receiver on the other side in Malcolm Kelly, but he's a productive player who can exploit a defense with his toughness. He will most likely stay at Oklahoma for his senior season, as he's a fourth-round prospect.


Safety D.J. Wolfe
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

SS, D.J. Wolfe (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 4th Round
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 201

Wolfe is a versatile defender who shows consistency in coverage and against the run. He has excellent ball skills and is a playmaker in the secondary. He has good awareness and takes good angles in coverage. He's an instinctive, physical player who defends well against the run. He has good closing speed and positions himself well among the action. Wolfe is an intriguing prospect who can be a nickel back or safety on defense and has high value as a fourth-round selection.

CB, Marcus Walker (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 197

Walker is a good cover corner who has great awareness. He's smooth backpedaling off the line, fluid turning his hips, and doesn't lose momentum in transition. He has good closing speed and gets in position to make a play on the ball. He's not afraid to mix it up against the run, but he isn't the most physical player. He has to improve his toughness. He understands his position and plays well in a team concept. Walker is a nice player, but isn't an elite defender and is a mid-round selection next April.

TE, Joe Jon Finley (Sr.)
Draft Projection: 5th Round
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 261

Finley is an athletic tight end who is a good receiver, but he has great ability as a blocker. He has great size and is physically gifted. He's quick off the snap, squares up against the opposition, and is able to hold his own against bigger defenders. He uses his hands well in protection and plays with leverage. He gets a quick release off the line and finds holes within a defense. He has soft hands and is a good option in an offense. Finley isn't a game-breaker and is rarely used to his full potential as a receiver in the Sooners offense. He has more offensive skills than he's demonstrated during his career at OU, and a team will wisely use a fifth-round selection for his services.

CB, Lendy Holmes (Jr.)
Draft Projection: 6th Round
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 193

Holmes is a versatile cornerback who adds value to a defense. He has great size and speed and is a physical defender. He's an instinctive player who makes good decisions in coverage and is quick to the action. He tracks down the deep ball and plays strong in the slot. He plays well against the run and isn't afraid to mix it up inside. Holmes will stay in school for his senior season, allowing other top defensive backs on the Oklahoma roster to pursue their professional futures early. Holmes has a chance to be an early second-day selection in 2009, but right now he's only a late-round pick.

Projected as Undrafted Free Agents:

FS, Darien Williams (Sr.)
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 197

DE, Alonzo Dotson (Sr.)
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 251

DT, Steven Coleman (Sr.)
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 306

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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